Barbarella Gelato & Wine, Melbourne CBD

Is there any better place in Melbourne for a gelateria than the Block Arcade? Designed in a style similar to that of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, the Block Arcade is one of the city’s architectural marvels. The arcade’s lavish interior decoration – soaring dome, wrought iron arches and the elaborate mosaic floor – makes it a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. And it is now the home of Barbarella Gelato & Wine.

Part of the group that also includes the Spring Street Grocer and Gelateria Primavera, Barbarella is a café and wine bar, as well as a gelateria. It is tucked into what was once a small laneway running off the Block Arcade – the narrow space is reminiscent of cosy European cafés.

The narrow spot now occupied by Barbarella Gelato & Wine used to be a laneway.
The narrow spot now occupied by Barbarella Gelato & Wine used to be a laneway.

Barbarella serves an all-day breakfast menu as well as fresh rolls, paninis and pastries. And gelato, of course.

Installed in Barbarella’s front marble counter are shiny lidded pozzetti, the traditional containers for keeping gelato fresh. The gelato is made by Gelateria Primavera, churned fresh and delivered each day from the gelateria’s Spring Street home. Gelateria Primavera has some of the best gelato in Melbourne, made from high quality ingredients and fresh seasonal fruit, with no additives or preservatives. The only downside is that Barbarella has just eight flavours of gelati and sorbetti.

Just eight flavours? Gelateria Primavera’s constantly changing menu normally has around two dozen. But on scanning Barbarella’s gelato menu we could see that someone has very carefully curated the day’s offerings so that there are options likely to appeal to just about everyone. A couple of traditional flavours (on the day we visited these were chocolate gelato and pistachio gelato), some non-dairy sorbetti, and rounded off with a couple of more unusual selections (vanilla, pear and chocolate gelato sounded like a winning combination).

Just like at Gelateria Primavera, the gelato comes in small (one flavour), medium (up to three flavours) or large (up to four flavours) sizes, served in cups or cones. Cones normally cost extra but this was waived when we visited.

A winning combination: salted coconut and mango gelato from Barbarella Gelato & Wine
A winning combination: salted coconut and mango gelato.

It was a hot day, and Benny and I were in the mood for fruit flavours. We tried raspberry sorbetto (stunning), as well as strawberry and lime sorbetto (nice, but we preferred the raspberry).

Benny loves coconut, so I wasn’t surprised when he picked the salted coconut and mango gelato. He described it as awesome – the mango was quite subtle, and it made for a lovely combination.

I chose the mango and passionfruit sorbetto. Two of my favourite fruits made for an intensely flavoured combination that was just perfect for a hot humid day.

Mango and passionfruit sorbetto from Barbarella Gelato & Wine
Strolling through the Block Arcade with a mango and passionfruit sorbetto from Barbarella Gelato & Wine.

And it isn’t just the flavours that make outstanding gelati and sorbetti. The texture of every flavour we sampled was velvety smooth. It was an absolute pleasure to eat, as we strolled around the shops of the Block Arcade.

Having a second outlet for the fantastic gelato from Gelateria Primavera, right in the centre of the CBD, is very welcome – now we don’t have to walk up to Spring Street to get our fix.

Our rating: outstandingBarbarella’s outstanding gelato comes from the wonderful Gelateria Primavera. Very welcome to have a second outlet in the CBD, but if you want a wider choice than Barbarella’s eight flavours you need to trek up to the Spring Street source.

Barbarella Gelato & Wine
Block Arcade
282 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

T: (03) 9663 2214

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